We all know what it’s like waiting to hear the outcome of an interview or job application and never receiving that call – eventually concluding that we have not been successful and not knowing why. But most of us would rather hear bad news than be left in limbo, especially if that bad news is accompanied by constructive feedback that might help to improve our chances of success next time round.

It’s easy to understand why employers and recruiters shy away from this uncomfortable task, but considering the amount of time and trouble a candidate will have invested in applying for the job and attending the interview, letting them know the outcome and offering them feedback is simply the decent thing to do. It also demonstrates that your recruitment process is being carried out in a professional, fair and transparent way, and creates a good impression of your company.

Failure to get back to unsuccessful applicants, on the other hand, will not reflect well on your company and may even prompt negative comments on social media and damage your reputation. Think of each candidate and everyone in their network as a future employee or customer.

Tips for providing constructive feedback

  • Get in touch with all the unsuccessful candidates as soon as the successful candidate has accepted your offer in writing. It should not be up to the candidates to contact you.
  • Call each candidate personally, briefly explaining that they have not been successful on this occasion and giving them the option to receive feedback. This kind of news should never be communicated by email or text message.
  • If they choose to receive feedback, try to ensure that it is provided by one of the people involved in the interview process and not a third party relying on someone else’s notes.
  • Ensure that clear, objective notes are kept throughout the selection process, especially during and after each interview, so that you can provide detailed feedback.
  • Be honest, but avoid criticising the person, focusing instead on their skills, abilities and experience. For example, they may have demonstrated intermediate Microsoft Office skills in their interview responses, instead of the advanced skills required for the role.
  • Provide positive as well as negative feedback. For example, you could mention that they demonstrated good listening skills or provided a coherent overall career ‘story’.
  • Make suggestions that indicate you believe the candidate has more to offer, for example, ‘What we didn’t hear was …’.

Notifying and providing feedback to unsuccessful candidates is a necessary but potentially difficult task that requires diplomacy and sensitivity. The team at The Proven Group, a recruitment agency in the western suburbs of Melbourne and regional Victoria, have extensive experience in this and every other aspect of recruitment. If you’d like help with any part of the recruitment process, feel free to get in touch for a confidential and no-obligation discussion.

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